NEW INFORMATION: Van Hollen tells prosecutors he did not suggest charges against clerks

Email from Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen:


Fellow Prosecutors,


In light of the frequent guidance on a myriad of subjects the Department of Justice dispenses to you, I wish to make clear the record on the matter receiving unfortunate and amplified media attention related to my office’s current defense of the Wisconsin’s Constitution in  Wolf et al v. Walker et al. There has been reporting and conjecture connected to my response to the Journal Sentinel regarding the viability of §765.30(2)(b) as it relates to the current issuance of marriage licenses by County Clerks in response to Federal District Court Judge Crabb’s opinion last Friday, June 6, 2014.

 I did not suggest or recommend criminal charging of County Clerks. I never indicated an intention by this office to investigate or charge any county officer.  During a half-hour interview in which the Journal Sentinel asked if clerks could be charged I acknowledged they could, citing §765.30(2)(b), and further stated it would be very fact specific and up to individual District Attorneys. The opposite answer would have been untruthful. I would certainly not encourage any prosecutor to do so and even suggested at the conclusion of the interview that the reporter should not print on that subject as it would be fear mongering. 


J.B. Van Hollen

Attorney General


MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin's Attorney General says he wants to be clear that he did not suggest or recommend charging county clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In an email sent to prosecutors Friday, Republican J.B. Van Hollen talks about his interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday.
In it, he says a reporter questioned him about the possibility of charging county clerks with a crime for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He acknowledged saying they could be, but clarified "it would be very fact specific and up to individual District Attorneys." Van Hollen said that he would not encourage prosecutors to file charges in those cases. He says his office does not intend to investigate or file charges against any county officer. The email also says that Van Hollen suggested the Journal Sentinel reporter "should not print on that subject as it would be fear mongering." A message left with the parent company of the Journal Sentinel was not immediately returned.

Last week, a federal judge decided to strike down Wisconsin's ban on gay marriages as unconstitutional. Van Hollen is trying to get the ruling put on hold to stop clerks from issuing licenses. Van Hollen said Thursday that those clerks could face charges from local district attorneys for breaking the law by issuing the licenses. You can see Van Hollen's email on the right side of this story.

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